HC Deb 01 February 1999 vol 324 cc581-2
4. Mr. Robert Syms (Poole)

When he is proposing to publish his tourism strategy. [66761]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Chris Smith)

We shall publish our new tourism strategy on Friday 26 February.

Mr. Syms

I thank the Minister. Tourism is very important to my constituents, and there is an award-winning tourist information centre on the quay in Poole that does an excellent job.

Must not a key point of any strategy be to measure the impact of other Departments of Government on tourism? Do not many small businesses—the backbone of the tourism industry in Dorset—face increased bureaucracy from both Europe and the Government?

Mr. Smith

The hon. Gentleman is right to point to the need to approach tourism not only from one Department, but across the whole of government, and that is precisely why we worked in close consultation with a wide range of Departments in drawing up our strategy. The small firms measures that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his pre-Budget statement a few months ago are a clear example of that.

Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)

May I say how much I look forward to the publication of the statement on 26 February? Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State take this opportunity to recognise the importance of hotels and hoteliers to any tourism strategy? Will he confirm that that sector has been fully consulted in advance of his statement?

Mr. Smith

I can confirm that. We have consulted widely with some 200 people representing all parts of the industry, including hotels, catering and hospitality, to engage them in our development of the strategy. We have also been out to widespread public consultation, and the theme of the new document will be to work in partnership with all parts of the industry.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth (East Surrey)

Is it true that the strategy, which is long overdue, will be announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport? If the Secretary of State has indeed been sidelined, yet again, by the Chancellor, will he take an early opportunity to brief the Chancellor on deep concern in the tourism industry about the combined impacts of the national minimum wage, the working time directive, the parental leave directive, the part-time workers directive and other burdens on their business?

Mr. Smith

I shall launch the strategy—not my right hon. Friend the Chancellor; the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth) is wrong, as always.

As regards such matters as the national minimum wage, the hon. Gentleman should talk to people in the tourism industry. They understand that if we are to make a success of tourism, we must have a good-quality product for the visitor. That means giving the people who work in the industry decent remuneration, good conditions, good training and good career opportunities. That is what the minimum wage is all about, and the good players in the tourism industry know it.